With 26 beaches and bays, a backdrop of ever-shifting sand dunes and large pockets of lush coastal forest, Port Stephens is a magnet for travellers who prefer to pitch a tent than swipe a key.
Port Stephens is a region where outdoor pursuits are part of your everyday itinerary. Taking long walks on sugar-white sand, swimming and snorkelling in translucent waters, four-wheel-driving or quad biking on gargantuan sand dunes, spotting koalas in trees and dolphins on waves, hiking up mountainous peaks where the reward is a panoramic view of sparkling ocean…
And what better place to recount stories of these long sun-drenched days with your travel buddies than around a campfire fire, before being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean a stone’s throw away? From basic campsites for tents and caravans to holiday parks that cater to your every need, here is our guide to Port Stephens camping.
Shoal Bay | Soldiers Point | Anna Bay | Fingal Bay | One Mile
Just around the corner from Nelson Bay, Shoal Bay is a quiet hamlet with a white-sand beach bookended by a heritage lighthouse and Tomaree Headland, where you can enjoy some classic Port Stephens camping.
Halifax Holiday Park
Conveniently wedged between two beautiful beaches in Port Stephens, an easy 15-minute walk into the town of Nelson Bay and a short walk to the historic lighthouse reserve, the location of Halifax Holiday Park can’t be beaten. It has direct beach access to Little Beach and Shoal Bay Beach, both of which are calm and family-friendly swimming spots and perfect for stand-up paddle boarding. The park is also a popular choice for boaties because it has a deepwater boat ramp. As far as accommodation goes, there are powered tent and van sites and modern one- to four-bedroom villas, with fully equipped kitchens for a self-contained stay.
Features: powered sites, cabins, boat ramp, barbecues, kiosk, kids’ playground, direct beach access, pet-friendly
With two beaches on your doorstep, Halifax makes for a great hideaway.
Shoal Bay Holiday Park
A stroll from the powder-soft white sands of picturesque Shoal Bay Beach and a short walk into the village, this holiday park is a top spot for chilled-out Port Stephens camping. Families with younger kids will love the activities during school holidays; keeping active and entertained is easy with a games room, cycleway just behind the park and on-site tennis court. The park has powered tent and van sites, ensuite van sites, uber comfy safari tents and one-, two- and four-bedroom villas, and its amenities block has recently been refreshed. Just down the road, the Tomaree Headland Summit Walk is a short but challenging hike that afford spectacular views, then stop by Shoal Bay Country Club afterwards for a casual feed.
Features: powered sites, ensuite sites, cabins, barbecues, tennis court, games room, direct beach access, pet-friendly
Stroll to the beach after a restful night’s sleep.
If a relaxing Port Stephens camping experience is what you’re after, check out Soldiers Point, a quiet enclave at the tip of a peninsula, 10 minutes’ drive north of Nelson Bay.
Big 4 Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point
Big 4 Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point is known for its kid-friendly fun. It has a purpose-built bike track, an indoor kids’ water park, a jungle gym, an outdoor playground, a games room, a pedal kart hire, a giant chess board and more… phew. The kids will no doubt flop into their beds at night and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean, a hundred or so metres away. It has powered and ensuite caravan and campsites, a range of different cabins to choose from, plus two 1970s Airstreams that sleep four, for a completely retro experience.
Features: powered sites, ensuite sites, cabins, barbecues, playgrounds, two swimming pools, water playground, bike and pedal kart hire, tennis courts, kiosk
Thou Walla Sunset Retreat
Located at the tip of Soldiers Point, Thou Walla Sunset Retreat is – as the name suggests – a spectacular location to enjoy the sky show as the sun dips behind the horizon. The park has access to two beaches, a nearby boat ramp and marina, tennis court, and is close to the Port Stephens Yacht Club and refined Point Restaurant. Accommodation types include caravan sites, one- and two-bedroom cabins, and glam tents with amazing views of the sunsets.
Features: caravan sites, cabins, glamping, barbecues, swimming pool
The retreat is perfectly placed for adventures into Port Stephens.
Picturesque Anna Bay is the gateway to Stockton Sand Dunes, the largest shifting sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, where you can enjoy adventure activities such as sand boarding, four-wheel-driving, quad-biking, camel riding and beach camping.
Gateway Lifestyle Birubi Beach
Located near Birubi Beach, which extends from Port Stephens to Stockton, this holiday park is the perfect base for sand-based adventures. The beach has four-wheel-drive access to the Stockton Sand Dunes. The beach is also famous for camel rides and is patrolled, so it’s safe for swimming, exploring the rock pools and is popular with surfers. The park itself has unpowered and powered tent and van sites, one- and two-bedroom cabins, as well as mini golf, a heated pool and kids’ playground.
Features: unpowered and powered sites, cabins, beach access, pet-friendly, playground, swimming pool, mini golf
BIG4 Bays Holiday Park
A little further away from the coast, this holiday park is another where the kids will be in heaven. It has a pool and slide, a jumping pillow, giant Connect 4 and chess games, pedal karts, outdoor bowling and two playgrounds. There is a wide choice of accommodation options – powered and unpowered sites, one- to three-bedroom cabins, and three ‘cosy’ caravans that have been recently renovated. The park is close to Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters and Birubi Beach.
Features: unpowered and powered sites, cabins, pet-friendly, swimming pool, playgrounds, pedal karts, jumping pillow
Ganyamalbaa Camping Trial
On a remote beach in the Worimi Conservation Lands, this campsite is suitable for tents and single-axel camper trailers only. It’s the only place you’re allowed to camp within the conservation area and sites must be booked. There are no facilities (i.e. not even toilets or water) so you need to bring everything. The trade-off? Sleeping peacefully under a blanket of stars, with immediate access to the dunes, four-wheel-driving and quad biking.
Features: beach camping, fire pits are provided. There are no other facilities here, so come prepared with a toilet and water.
Surrounded by Tomaree National Park, Fingal Bay is a favourite Port Stephens camping spot for families, boasting sugar-white sand and a calm beach with a sand bridge known as ‘The Spit’ that leads to Shark Island.
Fingal Bay Holiday Park
A family favourite for Port Stephens camping and caravanning, Fingal Bay is a large park directly opposite a patrolled beach, which is also good for surfing. It’s also excellent for whale watching between May and November. The park has a swimming pool, tennis court, games room, playground and school holiday activities for kids. You can choose from powered tent and van sites, ensuite sites, and one- to three-bedroom cabins.
Features: powered sites, cabins, barbecues, pet-friendly, playground, games room, swimming pool, beach access
Fingal Bay Holiday Park is super family-friendly.
This small township is adjacent to Tomaree National Park and home to One Mile Beach, which – as the name suggests – is a 1.6-kilometre stretch of pristine sand, making it the perfect location for camping by the beach.
Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach
Beach lovers flock here for the seemingly endless stretch of sand that is right on its doorstep. It’s also a great place to learn to surf, with a surf school on site. Kids are well catered to, with a playground, putt putt golf and jumping pillow, while the pool, tennis court and basketball court provide after-beach fun for the whole family. There are powered and unpowered sites for camping and caravans, and everything from budget cabins to a luxury beach house sleeping eight.
Features: unpowered and powered sites, cabins, pool, playground, tennis, barbecues, pet-friendly, beach access, surf school, cafe
Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach is great for the whole family.
Samurai Beach Bungalows – Port Stephens YHA
Nestled in Tomaree National Park, Samurai Beach Bungalows – Port Stephens YHA is a peaceful spot surrounded by ocean, dunes and headlands. The only catch? Clothing is optional. Yep, if you’re comfortable in your own skin (literally just your own skin) or don’t mind others who are, then you can spend your days here surfing, fishing and exploring the dunes. Accessed by four-wheel-drive and suitable for tents and camper trailers, camping here is free but you must book.
Features: beach camping. There are no other facilities here, so come prepared with a toilet and water.
Samurai Beach Bungalows – Port Stephens YHA is perfect for large families or groups of friends on a budget.